International students from the Bahamas to Vietnam set up tables by the Worner fire place this week to celebrate the countries they call home.
“It’s low-key designed to defeat some stereotypes,” said Tronik Pallás ’22. Hailing from Mexico City, with a Mayan mother and a Polish father who escaped to Argentina during World War II, Pallás is very proud of her heritage and her country.
“It’s a magical place,” she said of Mexico City. “It’s a city of 21 million people, and it still has a sense of community.”
A lack of cohesive community is one of her biggest criticisms of the U.S. Another is America’s habit of stereotyping other cultures. Her table’s activities included a Mexican trivia quiz designed to question those stereotypes. The few people who answered questions correctly got a taste of Mexican candy.
“What is Mexico’s biggest export?” [Automobiles]
“Where does the largest population of immigrants in Mexico come from?” [The U.S.]
“What are Mexico’s biggest natural disasters?” [Volcanoes]
Several tables down, Ricardo Serrano Peña ’21, representing El Salvador, talked about the “Mexican hegemony” that Central American countries resent.
“Mexico has the power to influence our everything,” Peña said. “But there are more countries than just Mexico.”
Peña grew up in El Salvador, but moved with his family to the U.S. when he was 13. His grandfather, who came to the U.S. as an undocumented teenager but later gained citizenship, was able to petition to allow his family into the country.
But not all would-be immigrants are so lucky, Peña explained. His family was relatively well-off and could afford to wait the years it took to go through the legal immigration process. Families in more precarious positions, however, don’t have that time.
Diallza Murigi ’22 comes from the other side of the world. Born in the small country of Kosovo, a 10-year-old European country that declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, Murigi says her country has “the biggest crush on the U.S.” because of its role in their independence.
Kosovo is a young country in many ways. Over half of the population is under 25 years and small coffee shops filled with students are ubiquitous. It’s also the cheapest country in Europe: a cup of coffee sells for under a dollar.Glo
Her parents were the first members of their family to come down from the mountains and settle in the town of Peja. They’re conservative, Murigi said, and don’t support the education of girls and women. Now that she’s in the U.S. on a scholarship, however, “they’re really proud,” she said.
International students make up only 8.9 percent of the Colorado College student population. Events like this, produced by the student-run International Advisory Council through the Butler Center, are designed to promote a sense of community among these students and provide an opportunity for intercultural exchange among the student body as a whole.
“If you really want to be prepared for a global world, we need to be open to learning from different cultures,” said Associate Director of the Butler Center Pearl Leonard-Rock.
This event was the inaugural event of “A Global Celebration,” CC’s week of programming dedicated to International Education week, a national event that runs from Nov. 12–16. The week has been bumped up on CC’s calendar due to Thanksgiving Break. Represented countries included Mexico, El Salvador, Kosovo, Mongolia, Uruguay, Vietnam, China, Germany, the Bahamas, and France.